Culms 20-40 cm, geniculate at the base, usually with many tillers. Sheaths with hyaline margins, distal portion of the lower cauline sheaths ciliate; blades 2-7.5 cm long, 2-5 mm wide. Spikes 1-3 cm long, 0.4-0.7 cm wide, narrowly ovoid to ellipsoid, widest basally, with (2)3-4 spikelets, distal spikelet sterile; rudimentary spikelets 1(2); disarticulation at the base of the spikes, above the rudimentary spikelets. Basal spikelets 7-10 mm long, 3-4 mm wide, urceolate, lower spikelet with 3-4 florets, lower 1-2 florets fertile; apical spikelets 4-5 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, narrowly obovoid, with 1 floret, florets reduced, sterile. Glumes of lower spikelets 6-10 mm, ovate, smooth, scabrous, appressed-velutinous, (3)4(5)-awned, awns 2-4.5 cm; glumes of apical spikelets about 3 mm, 4-awned, awns usually 1-3.5 cm; lemma of fertile florets 6-8 mm, adaxial surfaces often velutinous distally, apices 2-3-awned, awns 1-2.5 cm. Caryopses 4-6 mm, falling free from the lemmas and paleas. Haplomes MU. 2n = 28.
In the Flora region, Aegilops geniculata is known only from Mendocino County, California, where it usually occurs along roadsides. It is native from the Mediterranean area to central Asia. In California it grows in silty clay.
An e. Mediterranean sp. with short, ovoid spikes bearing 2-5 spikelets, the glumes each with 4 long awns, is reported to be established as a weed in Va.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.
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